Making the Case for (and Against) the Philadelphia Eagles Selecting Iowa DB Cooper DeJean in the 2024 NFL Draft

The Philadelphia Eagles have shown interest in Iowa DB Cooper DeJean. Should the franchise select the former Hawkeye in the 2024 NFL Draft?

While the Philadelphia Eagles have addressed many of their biggest needs this offseason, they have yet to make a substantial move at cornerback. As the 2024 NFL Draft quickly approaches, one prospect stands out as an obvious target for the Eagles.

Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean is regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the 2024 NFL Draft. Although DeJean primarily played outside cornerback at Iowa, many question his ability to play the position at the next level.

While some believe DeJean’s best fit in the NFL will be at safety, his positionless skillset should be valued in today’s game, especially for a team like the Eagles, as new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio loves to use pre-snap disguises to confuse the opposition.

Philadelphia is clearly intrigued by DeJean’s skillset, as they are reportedly going to host the versatile defensive back on a 30 visit before the 2024 NFL Draft.

Philadelphia Eagles Draft Preview: Get To Know Iowa DB Cooper DeJean

The Basics

  • Height: 6’0 1/2″
  • Weight: 209 pounds
  • Position: Defensive Back
  • School: Iowa
  • Age: 21 (Feb. 9, 2003)
  • PFN Big Board Ranking: No. 27 overall, No. 1 safety

Why DeJean Is a First-Round Target

DeJean was a four-star recruit coming out of Ida Grove, Iowa. He initially signed on as a safety at Iowa before emerging as an All-American cornerback in 2022. In his first season as a full-time starter, DeJean was dominant and only allowed 37 receptions on 72 total targets for 422 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions.

In his final season at Iowa, DeJean was even more impressive before fracturing his fibula during practice in Nov. 2023. Through 705 total defensive snaps in 2023, DeJean allowed just 20 receptions on 46 total targets for 194 receiving yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Although DeJean’s recovery from his injury has limited his participation in the pre-draft process, he showcased his athleticism during a workout on April 8. DeJean put on a show, posting a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and a 38.5-inch vertical jump.

“DeJean grades out as a top-25 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. There’s no question that he’s deserving of first-round capital,” Pro Football Network Draft Analyst Ian Cummings writes in DeJean’s draft profile.

“The real question is where he’ll play at the NFL level: cornerback or safety. In my opinion, he translates better at safety but can play in the slot or as the boundary cornerback in off-man, zone, and side-saddle looks.”

KEEP READING: Top CBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

“At around 6’1″, 209 pounds, DeJean is an explosive, gliding athlete with stellar space management skills, zone awareness, route IQ, and reaction quickness. Beyond those intrinsic traits, he has the rapid closing speed to trigger and wash in front of ill-fated throws.”

How DeJean Would Fit in Philadelphia

While many are concerned about where DeJean will play in the NFL, he would be a perfect fit in Fangio’s defensive scheme. Fangio likes to confuse the opposition with pre-snap looks, and DeJean’s versatility would allow him to line up all over Philadelphia’s secondary.

DeJean has actually drawn comparisons to current Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The 21-year-old defensive back would likely compete immediately for the starting outside cornerback job opposite Darius Slay.

If DeJean failed to win the starting job there, he could push for the starting job next to Gardner-Johnson or even play significant snaps at slot cornerback. As NFL offenses continue to line up their best players all over the field, defenses need chess-piece-esque players like DeJean to combat those alignments.

DeJean spoke at the 2024 NFL Combine about his versatility and willingness to play anywhere in the secondary.

“I feel like I’ve proven that I can play outside and inside,” DeJean said. “Obviously, I haven’t played safety in college. But I feel like I have the ability to play multiple, different positions in the back end.”

“I’ll play anywhere,” DeJean said. “I just want to play ball.”

Analyzing the Weaknesses in DeJean’s Skillset

In Cummings’ scouting report on DeJean, he listed several concerns and weaknesses that stood out while watching the film:

  • Sometimes loses his balance when sinking to match whip and out routes.
  • Muscle-bound frame prevents him from fully sinking and redirecting at times.
  • Doesn’t quite have elite fluidity and hip freedom, experiencing 180-degree delays.
  • At times, has room to better channel recovery speed out of transitions to close gaps.
  • Non-elite fluidity and transition freedom impact translatability as a man coverage CB.
  • Occasional wasted motion in press-man can tug him too far off the line and open space.
  • Sometimes halts his feet too early at stems and compensates by tugging on receivers.
  • On occasion, overcommits against double-moves and is a tick late to react and recover.
  • Can more consistently play the ball through the entirety of the catch process.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

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